Dottie is what most would consider a special needs child. She has a g-tube that we feed her formula through. She also has panhypopit, and had craniosynostosis until we had that corrected in August this year.
She's had a rough start in life and I speak about that often here on the blog, because it IS part of my life. It's a very real and visceral part of my every day life. Yes, it's true. We've had out ups and downs over this last year - and continue to. And that's OK.
But what I don't talk much about (mostly because it was just confirmed though an evaluation the day before Thanksgiving), is that Johnny also has a speech delay, or issue.
Ever since he was a tinsy winsy little newborn, we've done all of the things we were 'supposed' to be doing. Talking to him while grocery shopping about what different foods are, their colors, their shapes. Reading to him all sorts of books from books specifically for babies, to articles in parenting magazines, to novels that we were reading for ourselves. Talking to him about actions in general "Mommy's just washing your hair, stop screaming. It's time to dry off now! Johnny, give back my wallet."
According to ALL parenting resources, including our pediatrician, we're doing everything we can do to support and encourage his speech development. I even went so far as to put him in preschool two mornings a week, hoping that being around other kids his age and seeing them talk in complete sentences would motivate him to use his words more often.
All of this to say, I still was concerned with the intelligibility of his speech. He'll drop the first part of words very often. For example, "door" sounds like "or", "dog" sounds like "og". I repeat the word and drastically say "D D D, door" and it's still "Or, or, or". The little fella really tries, I gotta hand it to him!
I wasn't sure if any of this is normal, since he's our eldest kiddo, so I spoke with his preschool teacher, Miss Kelly. She referred me to ECI, which stands for Early Childhood Intervention. They basically assess him speech and developmentally otherwise. He passed his developmental part with flying colors, coming out even at a higher level on many things than he should be at.
He's very smart, understands everything you're saying to him. Follows directions to a T, is great with all people - kids included. He shares his toys well, shows interest in learning new things, is fiercely independent for a fella his age - everything is spot on.
Except for his speech. On speech, he received a score of 61% deficit on Expressive Speech. Meaning what words he does use, are hard to understand. Or, that his vocabulary isn't as large as most kids his age. 61% is a pretty high number, so ECI wants to start working with us one hour a week for Speech Therapy.
I'm thankful that I pursued looking into this. I've been thinking for a little while that there could be a problem. But before he wasn't talking much and I just assumed that he would talk when he was ready to. Then he did start talking more and his words just weren't very clear. No matter how much we worked with him on pronunciation, his words never seemed to get clearer.
So, ECI will be making a home visit in the next couple of weeks to begin Johnny's Speech Therapy journey. He will receive 1 hour visits weekly, and a parent will be present and engaged during every visit. This way, we will know how to carry through with the plan of care for him when we're with him as well. When he turns 3 in April, he will age out of ECI, but they will walk us through every step of transitioning him to the local school district Speech Therapy course.
Overall, I'm just happy that we figured out there was a problem and are getting on top of it. Hopefully we can make some gains with his expressive language sooner than later.